Three students receive 2019 President's Award

Olivia Battinelli, Kevin Burns and Kelly Ruggieri honored for successful collegiate careers
Rachel Stengel '14

Three seniors were honored with the President's Award for their exemplary academic and extracurricular achievements as well as their service to Rider. Olivia Battinelli and Kevin Burns were selected as this year's President's Award recipients for the Lawrenceville campus, while Kelly Ruggieri was selected as the Westminster recipient.

Battinelli and Burns were recognized during an awards ceremony on May 5, while Ruggieri was honored at Westminster Choir College's Spring Convocation the week prior. The highly competitive selection process for the awards is led by the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students and supported by faculty and staff who comprise the search committee.

Battinelli, a communications studies major and senior class president who holds a 3.56 GPA, was praised for her leadership skills and dedication to leaving her mark on Rider.

“I entered college wanting to make an impact; through all my experiences and the opportunities I was afforded, I have been changed for good and in turn, I hope I have changed Rider a little bit as well,” she said.

As senior class president, Battinelli spearheaded the Class of 2019 Legacy Walkway located outside the Student Recreation Center and has welcomed countless students to Rider as an orientation leader, freshman seminar peer mentor and student for a day coordinator in the Admissions Office. She is a member of Rider’s Leadership Development Program, the national communications honor society Lambda Pi Eta and the Community Standards Board.

She has served as membership vice president of Alpha Xi Delta sorority, vice president of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national honor society, and as a member of the President’s Award selection committee and the vice president for student affairs search committee. A recipient of the Dean's and Leadership Scholarships, she also interned for both Student Affairs and Academic Affairs.

Battinelli will spend the next year traveling throughout the United States as an educational leadership consultant for the national headquarters of Alpha Xi Delta, a highly competitive position that includes extensive leadership training. She aspires to earn a doctorate in higher education or university affairs and eventually become a senior leader on a college or university campus.

Burns is a sports management and international business major with a minor in Spanish and a 3.58 GPA. He completed his undergraduate degree in three years. He is a Dean’s List scholar, Provost Scholarship recipient, a member of Sigma Delta Pi, the Spanish honor society, and a recipient of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Balanced Man Scholarship and the Gary DeVercelly Jr. Memorial Endowed Scholarship.

Self-described as a shy and timid freshman, Burns was driven to become the best version of himself in college.

“It does not matter how large or small an impact I made, it mattered that I made one,” he said.

Burns is most passionate about Greek life and worked to ensure that all members of Rider’s Greek community have a positive, safe and rewarding experience. A member of Tau Kappa Epsilon, he served in a variety of leadership roles, among them assistant new member educator and member of the judicial and membership review boards. Burns served on the Interfraternity Council Executive Board and the Greek Values Board and was an active member within the University House shared living community.

"Through his leadership and example, Kevin personified the meaning of personal responsibility and accountability, setting the bar high for himself and his fellow fraternal members," Rider President Gregory G. Dell'Omo, Ph.D., said during the ceremony.

Burns has served as the vice president of special events for the Student Entertainment Council, Residence Hall Association vice president, treasurer of the club soccer team, a member of the Community Standards Board and as an intern with the Campus Life Office. He is currently a soccer coach with Three Lions Soccer Academy and works as a steel sales officer at Joseph Fazzios, Inc., an industrial steel and metals supplier. He will continue working there upon graduation and will begin Rider’s Master of Business Administration program in the fall.

Ruggieri '18 is a music education major who graduated in December. A Dean’s List scholar with a 3.96 GPA, she is a recipient of the Burns Alan Dobbins Jr. Memorial Scholarship and the Westminster Choir College Transfer Award. She served as an orientation leader, Academic Success Center tutor, a member of The Westminster Players and as an assistant in the Associate Dean of Students' office.

Ruggieri was praised for her can-do spirit and ability to connect with those around her. As the female empowerment chair, a position created just for her within Sigma Alpha Iota, the international music fraternity, she supported and empowered her fellow members, fostering their academic success and leadership skills through a variety of presentations and events. Her I LOVE Project and website educated the community about body positivity and mental health, while promoting equality and self-love.

She is also passionate about giving back to the community. She has assisted with Westminster Conservatory of Music’s early childhood music class, where she was one of six music education majors who provided guided drumming instruction to Trenton elementary school children with autism. Ruggieri hopes to be an elementary general music teacher. She is currently teaching music as a substitute teacher at Mendham Township Elementary School in Brookside, N.J. She would also like to complete a master's degree within the next several years and aspires to eventually teach music education at the college level.